The House of Commons, 1793-94 by Karl Anton Hickel. National Portrait Gallery, London.
Published in 1986
There are 2,143 biographies included in this period, consisting of the Members returned to the Parliaments beginning in 1790, 1796, 1802, 1806, 1807, 1812 and 1818. Between 1790 and 1801 the House consisted of 558 Members. In 1801 the addition of 100 Irish Members made an Imperial Parliament of 658 Members.
The Members range from the towering figures of William Pitt, Charles James Fox, Edmund Burke, to the agricultural improver Wiliam Coke ('Coke of Norfolk'), the merchant and economist David Ricardo, to many Members of more modest talents and achievements, including the many unambitious, but nevertheless very important country gentlemen.
As R.G. Thorne explains in his Introductory Survey section on Members many of them were closely linked to the aristocracy (on average each Parliament in the period returned nearly 170 peers' or peeress's sons and Irish peers, the figures rising perceptibly from 1807 onwards).
Given that Britain was at war with France for most of the period covered (the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793-1815), not to say that it had recently emerged from the American Revolutionary War of 1776-83, it is unsurprising that more than 400 Members at some stage served in the regular army, including Sir Thomas Picton, killed at Waterloo. A further 100 Members served in the Royal Navy, including famous officers such as Thomas, Lord Cochrane and Sir Edward Pellew.